Whether it’s the corporate world, the ever pulsating world of politics or about leading ourselves, there comes a time, when we experience or get to see the manifestation of the Leadership void. Join me here, we take a look at what this leadership void is about, it is not about having a leader for sure, it is about the reasons behind that and we also explore ways on how we can get this space fixed! This is the same void from where great icons emerge either to serve themselves (salvage of who and what they are) or at times they plunge ahead in the selfless service of the organisations & communities that they are part of- whichever path that they choose to go ahead with- it’s an empowering, enriching experience as long as the new found direction and motives align to the greater good! So where and how does all of this begin?
Whether it is about us, as Individuals, or about us as someone who is responsible to lead a firm or a nation, we will hit that odd patch at some or the other time, for one or the other reason and when that happens, the immediate reaction is to give away the reins- it’s like you have been driving just fine and it takes just those few seconds over your years of experience to change your whole outlook and approach towards driving! This is what creates the void- an incident, an accident, a missed deadline, a compelling commitment, promise, a promise which could not be delivered not because your competence was compromised or ineffective, but because the time that you traversed was meant to create that block at that moment and your reaction to it, is what sets up the void in the first place! In many cases, most of the cases rather, people will recollect themselves and will get their act together and keep walking ahead, so the void doesn’t precipitate further and in no time even perhaps forgotten as new achievements and new positive stories start to be created. There are those odd cases though, which emerge (and it happens when the stakes are high, really high) and hence you see this leadership void being played out in large stages of business and politics!
As Individuals when we loose that target, we have no other option but to gather ourselves back and again go for it! For example, say, you set a goal to get your self fit and arrive at a weight number in three months. When those three dreaded months are over, you find that you actually have ended up adding a few pounds rather then reducing- so what option do you have? Either begin to ignore and let live be- the Leadership Void impact- or analyse the issue and get going at it again because you know very well that your health is the key to your existence and irrespective of the social appeal that your fit body may get you- the fact remains that a healthy body alone will ensure you walk this planet for those many extra days or hours! Hence when it comes to matters which rare essentially individual and intrinsic, the void to lead oneself seldom remains long and deep and is quickly altered or replaced with some other pursuit and that’s how the story goes on for individuals either from one achievement to the next or one leadership void unto the next!
When it comes to the big stage of business and politics the ramifications can be deadly and intense! Consider this, you have a company whose CEO decides to quit and no one wants to take up that position! Call it acquired levels of incompetence or the complexity of the shit that needs to be managed or whatever the case may be the fact remains that the Leadership Void that gets created when you lead thousands of people- can be far damaging and may have irreversible consequences! When this reluctance of not wanting to be the CEO begins to manifest it starts to send signals which are subtle yet powerful internally and externally about the firm! Employees begin to evaluate if their individual growth is now going to be bottled up, if so how soon and at what level and what’s the economic damage that may come with it ( no one wants ton work for charity or passion- no one does and is they say so- fire them- because they are lying!). Externally vendors, clients all take note and begin to wonder if the problem is more fundamental and start to re- calibrate the competencies and abilities of the firm- few cases leading to law suits and termination of contracts etc. So you see one person’s exit and the inability of anyone else to step in, can cause an impact which is beyond ones’ control but plays havoc with all the stakeholders involved!
If you thought, this looks pretty bad and what could be more worse than this, welcome to politics! When a leadership void is created either by a leader stepping down or being made redundant by the polity (not necessarily form the same political party), chaos ensues! You see, most political parties (as long as you experience some kind of fair and free democratic process of elections in your nation) are evaluated by the voters by factors like the charisma of the leader, the promise, the vision, the track record, the future, the available strength of the team that a party has, level of acceptance internationally and nationally and the quality of views about the social fabric of a nation so on and so forth! So when the leader quits for whatever reason that could be intrinsic or a politically engineered plan; with the leader goes all the elements that were glued on to that party’s purpose and promise! So strangely enough, knowing politicians the way they are, you will find that when shit happens and a political leader quits, even as people may rumble, rush or create lobby groups to stake claim for that chair, the real truth is, everyone is wishing for the same person to come back and lead all over again until a time that there is more calm and clarity in the political waters and await for a time when they would want to make the move when acceptance will seem more natural, like a corporate success plan! In the ensuing period when this void thrives, needles to say the other parties, called normally as political adversaries make the most as the sun shines and are provided with enough of political ammunition that can last for years to come- where they keep on hitting hard on the other party- asking a simple question- That you could not lead your organisation, how can you manage the nation!
So, here it is more about playing to the audiences (the nation) like in the corporate world to the board of the company and the show goes on! When current leaders drop the ball, trust me even that, in a few cases would be a leadership move and if you were that odd person to end up catching the falling ball in a hurry, the weight of that will break your fingers and bury you in a lot of mess than you can ever think off! So the rule says- When leaders pull the brake for no reasons- put on your seat belts and be responsive – not reactive nor proactive! So what can be done about this and how can organisations or even the polity arrest this from manifesting?
It all starts and ends with how sensitive (as in- an acute ability to sense) the people experts are in the organisation or how astute and politically suave the members within a political party are for being able to judge whether a person should lead or not in the first place! Only when this space is analysed in detail with the allowance for failures, setbacks, rip offs , scandals, media assaults and all that you can think of; is when a wise people office of a major corporation or a mature political party will ask someone to lead! It all starts with the individual under the cross hairs to lead and it all ends with that- within the range of the highs and lows once it is understood how much of that swing will remain within the permissible limit- life is a party as long as the rope to the swing is not shredded or ripped off due to the ever increasing burden of the individual who is leading the team!
As long as this first step is fixed and a firm foundation is built around what the limits of leadership are and those are communicated and made clear to the person who leads- things are normally taken care of- most of the times! You see, even leaders are humans and being humans- at some or the point they will break down for one or the other reason and while if it happens for reasons of their own doing like health or some scam, that’s alright and an emerging void can be rapidly replaced and completed, but when that breakdown starts to spread like sepsis and the leader in chief starts to transform into the whiner in chief- that high level sabotage can not only wipe off organisation off the market map but in the case of political parties, end up altering the political landscape of a nation! When Leadership void begins to attain these level of massive unmanageable proportions- you see splintering of political parties and realignment of business units, mergers, acquisitions, stake sales, everything and anything that can be done to ensure that the organisation survives, the nation stays and does not get consumed by the leadership void which threatens to create an unsettling period for everyone around!
A few final thoughts, as I wrap this piece, Leadership Void assumes greater intensity, impact and influence in proportion of who the individual is, what that organisation is or what a political party is in a given contextual setting of a society or nation! The only way to stem this across any of the chosen levels, is about knowing the Individual, the gifts and the curses that the person brings along and how much of what is allowable , manageable and workable to ensure that the ecosystem stays intact when this person occupies the chair! Sure enough there could be, and certainly are, many more details that go on to make sure that these leadership voids are far and few in between and that again depends on the levels of competence of the people across the organisation or within a political party! What we see played out across society is nothing more than the presence or absence of human competence and the extreme manifestation of it, is the emergence of Leadership Void!
I leave you here, with these thought, reflect and seek the competence that you find or don’t within and round you and fasten your set belt, for the void may already be there or on its way!
Ciao for now, will be back soon with another article! Stay safe, stay wise and stay relevant!